I was born on the East Coast but moved to Michigan almost twenty years ago. At the time, the Midwest was about the last place I wanted to live. I didn’t enjoy winters in the snow belt and I desperately missed my family in Pennsylvania. Every day in my prayers I asked God to change my location. Surely living each day as the best day ever would be easier somewhere else!
Well, the Lord did answer my prayers, but not in the way I had hoped. He clearly told me that Michigan was not a curse. It was His gift to me and I needed to thank Him for bringing me there. How could this uncomfortable place be a gift? Though I didn’t understand at the time, I reluctantly began to thank God for Michigan instead of complaining. I even started to thank God for the parts I struggled with the most, including snow and extreme cold!
As I chose to give thanks regardless of my feelings, my heart began to change. In fact, I realized that the place I had resented was actually the place where my desires were being fulfilled! I was blessed with a job using my talents. My children and I lived in a house we loved. I had a beautiful horse to ride. Even my ministry began to blossom through unexpected divine connections! The land I had despised was becoming the land of my blessing. Could giving thanks have been a key to unlocking this blessing in my life?
In the Bible, thanksgiving often paved the way for miracles. Jesus gave thanks before He fed the five thousand with only five loaves and two fish (see Matthew 14:13–21). He cleansed ten lepers but only the one who returned to give thanks was made whole (see Luke 17:11–19).
Even on the night he was betrayed,
[Jesus] took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt. 26:27–28 NIV, emphasis mine)
The disciples thought they were eating and drinking food that was perishable. However, Jesus knew that this bread and wine He lifted up represented sacrifice. As He offered up His life with thanksgiving, it would become life for all who would believe in Him. Thanksgiving preceded the miracle! The word thanksgiving literally means “to give grace,” and when we give thanks to God, our hearts are prepared to receive His grace and power.
Is there an area of your life where you could use some grace? Today, instead of asking God to change your circumstances, try giving thanks in your circumstances. Trust God that He has a purpose for every detail of your life. The very things that are making you uncomfortable could be the very things God will use to bring transformation in you and through you!
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:16–18 NIV)
Father, forgive me for complaining when things don’t go my way. Help me to be thankful in my circumstances, knowing that You are working all things together for my good! I know that You will turn my trials into blessings as I give thanks to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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